“It smells like a stout.”
As I poured it, she gave the raised eyebrow. “Wait. How do you make a blonde stout?”
I smiled, as if I had something to do with inventing this beer and was ready to reveal my secret. Apparently, it all comes down to the malt. Stone used amber and pale malts to keep the color light, while the coffee and cocoa provide the familiar stout flavor. Essentially, it’s science.
This is a big coffee stout, though you get a bittersweet chocolate flavor through the middle. My problem is that the chocolate flavor was less TCHO or Scharffen Berger and more Hershey’s Special Dark; good enough but I have come to expect higher quality. That said, you would miss the chocolate if you were not looking for it or paying attention.
So, what of this blonde stout? You expect stouts to be big, dark, blacker than a high school science teacher’s soul. Coffee dominates from nose to throat, but the color tricks your brain into thinking lager or IPA. Credit Stone for being innovative and taking chances. The Master of Disguise earns its name and, with a little tightening of its game, would be a worthy beer to keep on rotation for the brewery.
Brewer: Stone Brewing Company
Beer: Master of Disguise (Stochasticity Project)
ABV: 9.7% IBU: 55
Container: 22 oz. bottle
Price: $7.99 Point of Purchase: Ithaca Coffee Company, Ithaca, N.Y.
To The Eye: Golden. A little hazy, but golden. Good carbonation and a strong head when poured hard.
To The Nose: Coffee. Lots of coffee. I couldn’t find the chocolate in the aroma, as others have because the coffee dominates.
To The Palate: Coffee up front. It gives way in the middle to bitter, dark chocolate, before finishing with coffee.
Aftertaste: Coffee with a little bit of dark chocolate.
Boozy Factor: It’s not in your face. The 9.7% ABV is very deceptive.
On a Scale of 1 to 10, with 10 as highest: 8